Category Archives: Review

Pod episode 5: Obama has an old hat; George W. Bush a one-track-mind

I have a joke about Gennady Zyuganov, Head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, but odds are you will never hear it. Even though Gennady Zyuganov is a funny name. To western ears. And this has nothing to do with the podcast. Sort of.

Two pieces, one about Barack Obama telling jokes, one about George W. Bush having a one track mind.

I don’t ordinarily do topical material. The danger being that people will forget things like that the Nobel prize was given out to a man running a war or that the president of the USA hired a male escort to sit in the press gallery and ask questions in briefings, or that a previous candidate for president blamed a hurricane on “the homosexuals, feminists, and the ACLU,” acting in concert to make it rain. Those kind of things get lost in the mist of time. Are washed away with the years. Get drowned in a bathtub of memories.

Also a suggestion that you buy the album Adaptations to a Modern Age by Scott Steven Erickson. Even though I sing in the background.

 

 

Banana facts

The banana is a berry. It is mildly radioactive. It is often the subject of lowbrow humor. Consuming banana may alter dopamine levels. In Thailand they are said to be haunted.

 

Pod episode 3: Wonderful Cake

This episode of the David Raffin podcast begins with an homage to the golden age radio show Escape!

Then a story about a trip filled with false fronts. But I must warn you, should you seek to emulate the trail, the poison gas has since been removed from those roadside pup tents. It was for the best. It was a terrible tourist draw.

(By the way, and this has nothing to do with the podcast episode so where better to place the observation but right here, I recently read George Orwell’s Such, Such Were The Joys and in this remembrance of British boarding schools he always refers to children as “it.” Was this the parlance of the day– that all children are gender neutral until they reach a specified age?)

Back to the podcast.
I close with Questions About Cake, a serious discussion of the history of sweets and death.

 

 

Podcast episode 2: Robot Pancakes with Gustav Hasford

This second episode of the David Raffin podcast is both delightful and delicious. It’s about pancakes and war. And it has robots in it. And Stanley Kubrick. Yes, all that in a 10 minute package. For free. Almost like it was made by a robot. For robots.

And it was.

Hasford.jpg

“Hasford” by Unknown – en:Image:Hasford.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

This episode also offers a story about Gustav Hasford, author of the novel The Short-Timers, which became the Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket.

If you want to know more about Gustav Hasford, you can track down some of his books. Perhaps visit
http://gustavhasford.blogspot.com

Which is maintained in his memory.

“The praise I seek from my readers is that they finish my books. After being alternately damned and praised for equally invalid reasons, I am content to trade fame for accuracy of interpretation. Fame, for a writer, is like being a dancing bear with a little hat on your head.”
– Gustav Hasford

Somewhere I have photocopies of his work as a young college student, copied from yellowing newsprint.

 

 

Full Shatner on Shatner Action

516uDz7F9iL I wrote this review of Shatnerquake by Jeff Burk in 2009 and I stand by it. Perhaps even more so now than ever before.

Jeff Burk’s Shatnerquake is the finest story ever told containing multiple William Shatners. Lesser authors have been shackled before now with writing only one role for Shatner. This is understandable, in the field of television and film, for logistical reasons. However, this has never been the case in the literary realm and Burk has led the way here with both great panache and bloodletting.

Unsatisfied with a single Shatner, Burk here provides a wall of Shatners. A smorgasbord of Shatners. Indeed, every possible variation of Shatner is set upon onlookers, each other, and the reader. No one is safe, let alone Shatner.

While some people have, in the past, mocked Shatner, deriding his skill as a thespian, song stylist, or margarine spokesman, Burk has shown that the problem has never been one of too much Shatner, rather too little. Free of casting limitations the literary form allows for full Shatner on Shatner action. At last Shatner is presented on a level playing field, where characters are of the same caliber.

With Shatnerquake, Burk has solved the Shatner dilema, which has plagued man since 1951, and he shall be remembered forever for this.

Denny Crane!

Flowers for Algernon

flowers-for-algernon-book

Author Daniel Keyes died last year. He wrote the masterpiece Flowers for Algernon which was first published as a short story in 1959 and later expanded into a novel.

Flowers for Algernon was part of the new wave of psychological science fiction, its story slightly set in the future and eschewing rockets and other planets  instead giving readers an epistolary story presented as the journal of a man with an IQ of 68 before and after an operation to increase his intelligence by three hundred percent.

The book is on the American Library Association’s list of 100 most challenged books, wherein librarians track the efforts of non-readers to prevent children from reading. Labeling the book as “filthy and immoral” is, in fact, a high recommendation, especially to teenagers.

It was required reading when I was in the seventh grade, to the consternation of one classmate who was angry that “They want to make me read a book written by someone who can’t spell.”

The book is actually about self realization and loss.

An interesting note about the story: it was written for Galaxy magazine, but the author refused to change the ending so it appeared instead in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When revised into a novel it was rejected by many publishers, again because the author refused to change the ending. It has never been out of print since publication.

Over at the podcast Escape Pod, they have an episode featuring a reading of the original 1959 short story. (link)

 

True story, disbelief suspension failure

Once I was at a theater as a zombie movie was letting out and I overheard a serious looking man in a suit say to his partner while exiting, “Highly improbable.”
Everyone’s a critic.

Flip Noorman, NL

When I was in the Netherlands I saw Flip Noorman.

The same way anyone sees anything these days, you see.
Saw him on the YouTube at Marcel Schuurman’s (guitarist/singer Flat Tire) house.

Official: Flip Noorman

 

 

Tom Paine for Mayday

The most Revolutionary of the US Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, a key figure in the US and French Revolution and author of Common Sense (1776),  Rights of Man (1791), and The Age of Reason (1807), among others.

He advocated Universal Suffrage, A Guaranteed Minimum Income, and the Abolishment of Slavery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-2Tx95epq8

WikiPedia:

Only six mourners came to his funeral, two of whom were black, most likely freedmen. The writer and orator Robert G. Ingersoll wrote:

Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death. Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend – the friend of the whole world – with all their hearts. On the 8th of June, 1809, death came – Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead – on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head – and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude – constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.

After his death, Paine’s body was brought to New Rochelle, but the Quakers would not allow it to be buried in their grave-yard as per his last will, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm. In 1819, the English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett, who in 1793 had published a hostile continuation of Francis Oldys (George Chalmer)’s The Life of Thomas Paine, dug up his bones and transported them back to England with the intention to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett’s effects when he died over twenty years later, but were later lost. There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although throughout the years, various people have claimed to own parts of Paine’s remains, such as his skull and right hand.

 

Bo, Bo Diddley

I hand picked these for you. Note the exquisite visuals in both of these selections.

 

Just another way the 1950s were different than now

When Buddy Holly said :

“my love bigger than a Cadillac”

the thing  you need to know is that, in the 1950s, things being equal to, larger than, or – God forbid –  smaller then a Cadillac was an important unit of standard measurement.

All hail the Blackberry, thorny fruit

Folklore in the United Kingdom is told that blackberries should not be picked after Old Michaelmas Day (11 October) as the devil (or a Púca) has made them unfit to eat, by stepping, spitting, or fouling on them. There is some value behind this legend as wetter and cooler weather often allows the fruit to become infected by various molds such as Botryotinia which give the fruit an unpleasant look and may be toxic.

Source: Blackberry – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia